Author: Hans Rosling
Review by: Jacobus Boers, assistant dean for international engagement, J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University
If you are comfortable that you have a pretty good understanding of the world and how it has changed during your lifetime, I strongly suggest that you pick up Factfulness.
I often use the first TED video with Hans Rosling (2006) in class, where he showed how our prejudices and preconceived ideas about the world perpetuates the outdated views of a “developed” and “developing” world.
Beyond reading in print, as an Atlanta commuter I love to listen to audio books and, it was therefore with much anticipation that I ordered Factfulness on audible.com after it was recommend by a former student.
In the book, Rosling and his colleagues not only clearly show the fallacy of our outdated ways of describing the world, but suggest how the world is much better described and understood using a framework of four income groups. However, this was not the best part of the book.
I have been privileged to travel extensively and see the profound change around the world. Rosling’s view is that while there is still much to be done to improve the lives of many people on this planet, the world is a much better place for the vast majority of its inhabitants than it was half a century ago. That resonated with what I have seen.
While globalization continues to perpetuate existing challenges and also pose new ones, one would be stubbornly insisting on an outdated worldview if failing to acknowledge the dramatic improvements to the human condition for the vast majority of people during this recent epoch.
In the remainder of Factfulness the authors systematically remind the reader how one should also be very careful with how our “instincts” and cognitive fallacies deceive us when we look at the world, even with good intentions and while using data. This part of the book is humbling since even those of us who pride ourselves of being “open-minded” and applying critical thinking skills in our approach to understand our world, cannot help but wonder to what extent we are looking through “rose-colored glasses.”